UK: Historic gay sex convictions to be pardoned

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UK: Historic gay sex convictions to be pardoned, Priti Patel
UK: Historic gay sex convictions to be pardoned image: wikipedia

Anti-gay laws in the UK resulted in many men receiving convictions for gay sex but now all of that is about to change with the government agreeing to amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The changes to the bill mean that historic convictions could be pardoned on application under the new scheme which recognises that old laws that criminalised consensual gay sex were wrong.

Commenting on the changes the Conservative Secretary of State for Home Affairs Priti Patel said: “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too.”

She added: “I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT+ community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home.”

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The scheme is not totally new in that applications to have cautions and convictions for historical same-sex relations could be removed on application since 2012. That change was further updated in 2017 to with Turing’s Law, the famous code breaker who had been convicted for gross indecency. That allowed the UK to pardon posthumously those convicted.

Campaigers have argued for years that the crimes covered by the changes were too narrow only covering a limited range of offences specifically focusing on buggery and gross indecency between men.

The new bill will broaden the criteria to include any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence imposed on someone purely for, or due to, consensual homosexual activity. That does not mean that offences committed in the past that are still illegal today would be considered for a pardon, for example sex with a minor.


LGBT campaigners believe the expansion means many more people will be eligible to have convictions wiped from their records and an automatic pardon given.

The news has be widely welcomed by people like Michael Payne (@MichaelPayneUK who tweeted: “Wonderful news.Thank you for indomitable fight for justice, equality and love @mcashmanCBE, Lord Lexden & Prof Paul Johnson. Thanks to @SusanBaroness & her team too! #loveislove.”

Celebrating the news on Twitter politician and Stonewall founder Lord Michael Cashman celebrated the news on Twitter wrote: “Breaking news: 6 years work by Lord Lexden, Prof Paul Johnson of Leeds, & me to widen pardons & disregards for historical homosexual convictions to become law. “UK did so much wrong; reputations & lives can finally be uplifted. So much more to do. Enormous thnx to @SusanBaroness.”


Many people have been concerned by that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill bill proposed by Ms Patel was going too far in removing people’s rights, the change that allows for gay sex convictions to be pardoned will perhaps ease some of that concern.


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